Defense Sec. Mattis 'Shocked' By US Military's Lack Of Readiness To Fight

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sets his briefcase down before he testifies at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the defense budget for the 2018 budget year on Capitol Hill Monday

Pentagon chief declares North Korea the new top threat to US security

"Trump blustered early this year that the DPRK's final access to a nuclear weapon that can reach the USA mainland will never happen", the editorial said, using an abbreviation for the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. John McCain, R-Ariz., the committee chairman.

USA military commanders, who saw fragile security gains eroded under Obama-era troop draw-downs, have been pushing for a new strategy that could see thousands of additional soldiers deploy to Afghanistan to help train and advise beleaguered Afghan partners.

"We recognise the need for urgency", Mattis said. I'm fighting as hard as I can to increase defense spending.

The broader regional U.S. strategy for Afghanistan remains unclear. The White House is reportedly weighing a 3,000- to 5,000-troop surge into the country this year.

The Taliban "had a good year last year", Mattis said, referencing gains made by the militant group that has been battling US -led troops in Afghanistan since 2001.

"I believe by mid-July we will be able to brief you in detail", Mattis told the Senate committee. "We're putting it together now and. there are actions being taken to make certain that we don't pay a price for the delay".

Legislators at the hearing discussed the differences between President Donald Trump's $603 billion base budget for defense and his campaign promises.

Last month, Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, the US Defence Intelligence Agency chief, said it was "inevitable" that a nuclear weapon launched from North Korea would hit the US mainland.

More broadly, USA naval, ground and logistics bases "are all under threat of accurate, all-weather, day-night guided munitions bombardment" that complicates "our operations and made passive and active base defense more necessary and urgent".

A suspected North Korean drone had photographed a USA missile defense shield in South Korea before it crashed near the border where it was found last week, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

Mattis noted said these developments put the entire worldwide order at risk. "We've got to confront them there". I did not anticipate that the Russians would move there.

Since the U.S. struck with its "mother of all bombs" earlier this year, ISIS has largely avoided assembling in large concentrations, so the official said additional targeting is needed. "It moves on, and it is moving in a risky direction".

The U.S. focus on North Korea has been sharpened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of previous year and by Pyongyang's vow to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. Last week, an F-15E Strike Eagle fired on an Iranian-made drone that had dropped a munition on coalition forces patrolling near the base.

Additionally, Mattis and Dunford said one of their priorities in Afghanistan is to reduce Afghan casualties by increasing US fire and air support for the fledgling Afghan ground forces. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), said: "I don't assess we're in better shape than we were a year ago". "We still have freedom of movement outside of the Tanf area ... we are not limited from moving up toward the Euphrates River valley".

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